An Investment in the Future of Our Young People
The general goals of the NCHSAA Endowment Fund are:
- To create and preserve opportunities for student-athletes involved in NCHSAA member schools, and related NCHSAA programs and services;
- To provide a vehicle through which citizens of North Carolina can become involved in active support of a wholesome program that produces lasting values;
- To ensure that the Association can continue to provide quality programs and services, including Olympic sports, classified championships, and special programs (i.e., scholarships, grants, subsidies, etc.) in perpetuity.
The road from theory to practice, from concept to reality, can be a winding one and is not always smoothly paved. To some degree, this is the nature of the Association's work, and it can certainly be applied to the history of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association's Endowment Fund. After approximately five years of dreaming, discussion, and dialog, the NCHSAA Endowment Fund became a reality in the early 1990s.
Perhaps a review of some of this concept's history is in order. The idea of establishing an endowment fund was first discussed at the regional meetings and the annual meeting in the late 1980s, like a dream that could help provide some protection for vitally important programs and sports that may never be self-sustaining. The notion of an endowment– investing money and using the interest for intended purposes– is a time-honored concept for scholarships and other philanthropic gestures, especially at the collegiate level. Why wouldn't there be some application to state association sports and programs?
After further discussion, the concept of creating an endowment fund was approved by the NCHSAA Board of Directors. Once approved, regional foundation committees, made up of superintendents, principals, athletic directors, coaches, media representatives, booking agents, and officials, were formed. Former NCHSAA Executive Director Charlie Adams and former Associate Director Rick Strunk, from the NCHSAA staff, attended each of the state's eight regions to meet with those committees.
A list of almost 100 suggestions and ideas for how funds could be raised to establish the Endowment Fund was suggested during the month-long duration of those foundation meetings. Each of the eight regions developed its preferred list as to how the Endowment campaign should proceed. The state endowment committee was formed from the regional endowment committees, representing all of the aforementioned groups. The state committee reviewed and analyzed the regional proposals, weighed them from a statewide perspective, and determined what they felt was the best course of action. A final proposal was presented to the Association's Board of Directors, who adopted parts of and elected to leave parts of the proposal unapproved which the Board is authorized to do with any suggestion or idea that comes from the membership and other committees.
Most of the committees tended to agree on certain proposed items. One idea was to initiate an "opportunity solicitation" to "members of the NCHSAA family," such as principals, superintendents, coaches, and school administrators. This solicitation entailed a letter writing campaign outlining the purpose and vision of creating an Endowment Fund and asked individuals and groups to consider supporting the initiative. Initially, the corporate community was not solicited until those who would most directly benefit from the Endowment Fund had demonstrated their willingness to get involved. There was also general agreement regarding the development of a broad-based approach, involving as many people as possible. That is one reason the $1.00 ticket surcharge on playoff tickets was approved.
In 1994, a special Endowment Board was appointed, with one representative per region, to serve with the Commissioner, Association legal counsel, Association auditors, and the chairman of the Finance Committee of the NCHSAA Board of Directors. Specific recommendations were created which outlined the use of the earnings generated from these restricted funds. The Endowment Funds are, in fact, restricted; only interest generated can be distributed, and in many cases, the funds are donor-directed, so interest earnings can only be used for the specific intention of the respective donors. After the Endowment was established and on solid footing, there was no reason to have a separate Board for oversight. Thus, the special Endowment Board was dissolved, and currently, the NCHSAA Board of Directors, Commissioner, Associate Commissioner for Development, and an Assistant Director handle the day-to-day administration of the Endowment Fund. Specifically, the Finance Committee, a sub-committee of the Board of Directors, is responsible for annual Endowment Fund review and an Endowment Advisory Committee was formed in the summer of 2021 to review Fund values and make recommendations to the Finance Committee/Board of Directors regarding annual distributions.
Thousands of people were involved in the formulation of the Endowment strategy, and many more than that have been involved in campaign efforts since the Fund inception. Over the past thirty (30) years, thousands of donors have molded the Association Endowment Fund into what it is today and helped to create this legacy which will remain for the benefit of future generations of student-athletes in North Carolina.